Iraq had no stockpiles of biological, chemical or
nuclear weapons before last year's US-led invasion,
the chief US weapons inspector has concluded. Iraq
Survey Group head Charles Duelfer said Iraq's nuclear
capability had decayed not grown since the 1991 war.
But in a 1,000-page report his group said Saddam
Hussein intended to resume production of banned
weapons when UN sanctions were lifted.
The US and UK used allegations of Iraqi WMDs as a key
reason for going war.
But despite the lack of actual weapons, the White
House said the report showed Saddam Hussein's intent
and capability and justifies the decision to go to
Democrats, on the other hand, used the report to
attack the Bush administration, claiming the president
misled the American people.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that while he now
accepted that Iraq held no stockpiles of WMD ready to
be deployed at the time of the invasion, the report
showed that UN sanctions had not been working.
Key findings in the report:
â€¢ "The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam
possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the
possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq,
although not of a militarily significant capability."
â€¢ "There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and
circumstantial body of evidence suggesting that Saddam
pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return
to WMD after sanctions were lifted... "
â€¢ "The problem of discerning WMD in Iraq is
highlighted by the pre-war misapprehensions of weapons
which were not there. Distant technical analysts
mistakenly identified evidence and drew incorrect
The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says the report
will be used by both sides in the US election race -
while laying to rest the myth of WMDs it will inflame
the argument over whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein
constituted a true threat.
President Bush again defended last year's invasion,
though he made no reference to the report.
He told supporters on his election campaign trail that
the world was better off without Saddam Hussein, and
the risk of him passing weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) to terror groups was "a risk we could not afford
But the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee,
Senator Carl Levin, said Mr Duelfer's findings
undercut the government's main arguments for war.
"We did not go to war because Saddam had future
intentions to obtain weapons of mass destruction," Mr
High political stakes
Mr Blair said the report showed that Saddam Hussein
had planned to develop WMD.
"I welcome the report because I think it will show us
that it is far more of a complicated situation than
people thought," he told reporters during a trip to
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barhem Saleh, said
anyone who doubted that Saddam Hussein had WMDs only
needed to visit Halabja - where the former Iraq
dictator had gassed thousands of Kurds.
But former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said
he hoped Mr Blair and Mr Bush would now admit that the
invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
"Had we had a few months more [of inspections before
the war], we would have been able to tell both the CIA
and others that there were no weapons of mass
destruction [at] all the sites that they had given to
us," he said, quoted by the Associated Press news
The ISG's verdict has been widely anticipated since
the former head of the group, David Kay, resigned in
January, and following the leaking of a draft copy of
the report last month.
The group plans to continue translating and evaluating
an estimated 10,000 boxes of documents seized in Iraq.